Best Drone for Photography (+ How to Make Money With Drones)

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Overwhelmed by the number of drones on the market? In this guide, we rank and review the 5 best drones for photography, along with our top picks, so you can choose the right drone for your needs. 

Whether you’re a beginner or expert drone pilot, whether it’s about earning cash or just having fun with drone photography, keep reading!

Best Drones for Photography

  1. DJI Mini 4 Pro – Best drone for travel
  2. DJI Air2S – Best drone for beginners
  3. DJI Mavic 3 Pro – Best drone for photography pros
  4. DJI Mini 3 – Best drone under 500
  5. Autel Evo Lite Plus – Best drone for nighttime photography

Who doesn’t want to make some extra money on the side, right? Well, drones are a great way to do it. They’re not just for fun; they can be a source of income too.

If you’re into photography or videography, a drone can help you capture stunning aerial footage that’s perfect for commercial purposes.

If you’re a skilled amateur drone pilot, there are a number of ways to turn your hobby into a profitable business.

First things first, if you’re interested in making money with a drone, choosing the right drone for your needs is crucial.

Professional Drone Vs. Beginner Drone

Professional drones offer the best image quality and features, but they can be expensive. If you’re on a budget or are a beginner drone pilot, several affordable drones are available that can still produce high-quality footage.

Once you have a drone, the next step is to learn how to fly it safely. Take some time to practice flying in a safe area before you start using it for commercial purposes.

You should also check the drone regulations in your area to make sure you’re flying legally.

How to Make Money With Drones

Once you’re a skilled drone pilot, you can start exploring ways to earn money with it. Here are some of the best ideas on how to make money with drones:

  • Aerial Photography and Videography: Offer your drone services to capture stunning photos and videos for various purposes, such as real estate listings, events, and tourism promotions.

  • Real Estate Marketing: Provide real estate agents with high-quality aerial images and videos to showcase properties.

  • Construction and Surveying: Work with construction companies to provide aerial surveys, progress reports, and site inspections.

  • Agriculture: Help farmers with crop monitoring, irrigation planning, and pest management through aerial imagery.

  • Environmental Monitoring: Support environmental research and conservation efforts by collecting drone data for ecological studies.

  • Insurance Assessment: Assist insurance companies in assessing damage claims through aerial imagery for quick and accurate evaluations.

  • Infrastructure Inspection: Offer your services for inspecting bridges, power lines, and other critical structures for maintenance and repairs.

  • Film and TV Production: Collaborate with filmmakers and TV producers to capture unique aerial shots for their projects.

  • Drone Training and Education: Teach others how to operate drones safely and effectively or offer workshops on aerial photography and videography.

  • YouTube and Social Media: Create your own content by sharing drone videos and images on platforms like YouTube and Instagram, and monetize through ads and sponsorships.

  • Stock Footage Sales: Sell your aerial drone video clips and photos on stock footage websites to earn some handy extra side income.

  • Search and Rescue Support: Assist search and rescue teams by providing aerial reconnaissance in emergency situations.

  • Drone Racing Competitions: Participate in drone racing events and win prizes or sponsorships.

  • Aerial Inspections: Offer services for inspecting hard-to-reach areas, such as roofs, towers, and wind turbines.

  • Drone Delivery: Explore opportunities with companies looking to implement drone deliveries for packages and goods.

  • Drone Mapping and 3D Modeling: Create detailed maps and 3D models of areas, which can be valuable for various industries like architecture and urban planning.

  • Security and Surveillance: Provide security and surveillance services for events, properties, and businesses.

  • Wildlife Monitoring: Work with conservation organizations to monitor and protect wildlife populations.

  • Geographical Information Systems (GIS): Use drones to collect geographical data and mapping information for GIS applications.

  • Event Coverage: Capture aerial footage of weddings, festivals, and other events from unique perspectives.

What Do I Need to Look for in a Drone?

Buying a drone can be a fun experience, but there are some things you need to know before you make your purchase.

Here are 7 of the most important drone features to know before you buy one:

1. Types of Drones – Find the Right Fit

There are many different types of drones available, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.

Quadcopters are the most common type of drone, and they’re a good choice for beginners because they’re relatively stable and easy to fly.

Hexacopters and octocopters are more stable than quadcopters, but they’re also more expensive and complex to fly.

3. Flight Features – What Can Your Drone Do?

Drones have a variety of flight features that can make flying your drone easier and safer, but they can also add to the cost.

Consider which drone features are important to you and which ones you can live without. Do you really need that high-tech, expensive drone with 12 computer vision sensors that provide omnidirectional obstacle avoidance?

Twelve sensors may be more than you need, but some flight features are essential for taking your drone beyond your backyard.

Let’s take a look at some of those important drone features:

4. Camera Quality – Get the Best Shots

The camera quality  of a drone is a big deal if you’re looking to capture the best quality drone footage. Some drones have built-in cameras, while others let you attach your own.

You want to look for factors such as resolution, frame rate, bit rate, colour depth, stabilisation, and field of view.

It’s also a good idea to make sure your soon-to-be drone has a gimbal, which is a device that stabilises the camera and allows you to tilt and pan it.

5. Flight Time and Range – How Long and How Far?

Flight time is the amount of time a drone can stay in the air on a single charge, while range is the distance a drone can fly from the controller.

A good flight time and range are important if you plan to fly your drone for long periods or over long distances.

Average drone flight time and range from the controller:

  • Toy drones: 5-10 minutes, 20 to 120 yards
  • Mid-level consumer drones: 20-25 minutes, 0.25-3km
  • High-end prosumer drones: 30-45 minutes, 4-8km

Some high-end professional drones can fly for over an hour on a single charge and have a range of up to 10 kilometres, but they are also much more expensive than cheaper beginner drones. 

6. Choosing the Right Controller

When it comes to drone control, you’ve got two options: a classic joystick-based controller or a handy mobile app. If you’re all about the tactile experience, pick a traditional controller with a good-sized screen.

On the other hand, if you love using your smartphone or tablet, find a drone that works with mobile apps.

DJI, Autel Robotics and other popular drone brands have their own apps, such as DJI Go and Autel Sky, respectively. Drone apps vary by brand and model, so choose an app compatible with your drone when you buy.

7. Drone License and Rules

Drone regulations vary from country to country, so it’s important to check the regulations in your area before you fly. In many countries, you need to register your drone with the authorities.

You also need to follow the rules for flying drones safely and legally, such as keeping your drone in sight, avoiding airports and restricted areas, respecting people’s privacy, and not flying over crowds or near emergency situations.

Think Before You Fly

When flying a drone, it is important to be considerate of people and animals that may be in your flight path.

The loud buzzing noise of the drone may not be bothersome to you, but it can often be a nuisance to others. So make sure to fly your drone in a responsible and respectful way to avoid disturbing anyone.

Best Drones for Photography: Top 5 Drones On the Market

Now it’s time to discover our picks for the best drones for photography. These drones are some of the best drones on the market today.

The best drones for photography:

→ Best drone for travel

Compact and lightweight, the Mini 4 doesn’t require a drone pilot certificate to use

With its powerful camera, intelligent flight modes, and compact design, the Mini 4 Pro is the perfect tool for capturing stunning aerial footage from any location.

Our Pick

If you’re a photographer or a creator who enjoys travelling to capture drone footage, the DJI Mini 4 Pro is the perfect drone for you. It’s compact, lightweight, and easy to carry around on your adventures. Moreover, it has a battery life of 34 minutes, which can be extended up to 45 minutes with Battery Plus.

One of the best things about the Mini 4 Pro is its size and weight. It weighs under 249 grams, which makes it exempt from drone regulations in many countries. This means you can fly it almost anywhere without having to worry about a permit or license.

Despite its small size, the Mini 4 Pro is packed with powerful features that make it a great drone for taking gorgeous aerial footage. It captures 4K video at 60fps and photos at 48MP. 

Pros

  • Compact Design: This drone weighs just 249 grams and is incredibly lightweight and foldable. Its size and weight make it easy to carry in your backpack, and as mentioned, you don’t need to register it to fly in most countries.

  • Camera Quality: Despite its size, the Mini 4 Pro has a 1/1.7-inch sensor capable of capturing 48-megapixel photos and 4K/60fps video. The 3-axis gimbal stabilization ensures your footage is smooth and shake-free.

  • Intelligent Flight Modes: The DJI Mini 4 Pro drone is user-friendly, thanks to features like QuickShots, Dronie, and Helix, which allow you to create cinematic shots with ease.

  • Flight Time & Range: With a flight time of around 34 minutes and a maximum flight distance of 18 km (11.2 miles) with the Intelligent Flight Battery, the Mini 4 Pro provides ample opportunity to capture all of your shots.

Cons

  • Because the DJI Mini 4 Pro is lightweight it might not perform well in windy conditions. With that in mind, it’s best to fly the drone in calm weather and avoid strong gusts or turbulence.
→ Best drone for beginners

Stunning 5.4K video quality and 4-way obstacle avoidance detection perfect for drone beginners

If you’re into aerial photography, the Air 2S is your go-to drone, delivering sharp 20-megapixel photos and impressive 5.4K video quality.

Top All-Rounder Pick

The DJI Air 2S is a top-of-the-line drone that has won the hearts of drone enthusiasts, filmmakers, and creatives alike. It’s easy to fly, has an impressive battery life, and captures high-quality photos and videos.

The drone is equipped with DJI ActiveTrack, which allows it to autonomously track and film a subject while avoiding obstacles along the way. The Air 2S has a maximum video resolution of 5.4K at 30fps, which is perfect for capturing professional-looking footage.

If you’re looking for a drone that can help you take your photography or videography to the next level, the DJI Air 2S is an excellent choice. It’s also a great option if you’re looking to turn your piloting passion into profit.

Pros

  • Excellent image quality: The DJI Air 2S has a larger 1-inch CMOS sensor compared to most other consumer drones, providing better image quality, particularly in low light conditions.
  • 5.4K video recording: The drone can record video up to 5.4K resolution at 30 frames per second, one of the highest video resolutions in a non-commercial drone.
  • Intelligent tracking modes: The DJI Air 2S has a variety of intelligent tracking modes that make it easy to track subjects and get professional-looking shots, even if you’re a beginner.
  • Compact and lightweight design: With a takeoff weight of 595g and folding to a compact 7×3.8×3 inches, the DJI Air 2S is highly portable with its foldable design.

Cons

  • The DJI Air 2S has a battery life of up to 31 minutes. This is a good battery life for a consumer drone, but it’s not as long as the battery life of some other drones, such as the DJI Mavic 3.
→ Best drone for photography pros

One of the best drones on the market for capturing professional-grade footage

A premium drone with three cameras that shoots 4K/60fps video with 7x optical zoom and 12MP photos.

Quality Pick

The DJI Mavic 3 Pro offers unparalleled image quality and creative potential for photographers, documentary makers, videographers and more.

The first folding drone to come with three cameras on board, The DJI Mavic 3 Pro features a wide-angle Hasselblad with Four Thirds sensor and adjustable aperture and two telephoto cameras with 48MP and 12MP sensors, respectively. 

For photography and videography professionals who demand nothing but the best, the DJI Mavic 3 Pro is a true standout. It’s an investment, but it’s worth it if you’re looking for the best drone for photography on the market today.

Pros

  • Three-camera setup: Mavic 3 Pro has a Four Thirds 20MP 24mm camera with Hasselblad colour science, the new midrange Type 1/1.3 48MP 70mm (3x) combo, and a Type 1/2 12MP 166mm (7x) lens.
  • Better hovering precision: The Mavic Pro’s Vision Positioning System (VPS) uses ultrasonic and vision sensors to provide better hovering precision both indoors and outdoors 1.
  • Advanced 3D collision avoidance technology: The drone’s FlightAutonomy system uses multiple cameras, ultrasonic sensors, and 3D mapping technology to detect obstacles up to 49 feet away and avoid them 1.
  • Impressive range: You get a max flight distance of 28 km and transmission distance of up to 15km from the Mavic 3 Pro.
  • Good battery life: The official flight time is 43 minutes max, so you won’t need a new battery often.

Cons

  • The entry-level version comes with a modest 8GB of internal storage, which could fill up quickly depending on usage.
  • With great power comes a learning curve. Due to its advanced features, novice drone users might initially find the Mavic Pro overwhelming. The DJI Mini 3 or DJI Air 2S are better beginner drone options in that case.
→ Best drone under 500

The best drone with a camera for beginners, this entry-level DJI drone is small and easy to use

With a pocket-sized design, 38-minute flight time, and a 4K camera with HDR, the DJI Mini 3 offers a lot of value for its low price and is the ideal drone for beginners on a  budget.

Budget Pick

The DJI Mini 3 is a great option for budget-minded buyers who want a drone with good image quality and performance. It is also one of the best drones for photography beginners to learn on.

The DJI Mini 3 is equipped with a camera that can capture 12MP photos and 4K videos at a maximum of 30fps. Additionally, the camera is supported by a 3-axis mechanical gimbal that helps you avoid wonky footage. The camera also records HDR videos at a resolution of up to 2.7K.

A more affordable version of the DJI Mini 3 Pro, which was released back in 2022, the DJI Mini 3 has some features missing or pared back, but it still offers a lot of value for its low price.

Pros

  • Long battery life: The DJI Mini 3 has a long-lasting battery that can provide up to 38 minutes of flight time on a full charge and up to 51 minutes with the optional ‘Plus’ battery.
  • Lightweight: This small drone weighs only 248g, which means you can take it anywhere and avoids many strict regulations for larger drones like the DJI Mavic 3 Pro or Autel Evo Lite Plus.
  • 4K and HDR: The DJI Mini 3 has a camera that can shoot 12MP photos and 4K videos at up to 30fps. The HDR mode enhances the dynamic range and colour accuracy of the videos, especially in scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows.
  • 10km flight range: The range of up to 10km for the Mini 3 is impressive for such a small drone. 
  • Smart flight modes: With the Mini 3, you can use smart flight modes that let you capture creative shots with a tap, such as QuickShots, Panorama, True Vertical Shooting, and more.

Cons

  • The DJI Mini 3 doesn’t have obstacle avoidance sensors, so you have to be more careful when flying near obstacles or in a complex environment.
  • No Active Track on the DJI Mini 3 means you can’t easily capture moving subjects. You need to fly it yourself or use QuickShots for cinematic shots.
  • The DJI Mini 3 has lower video specifications than its more expensive cousins, the DJI Mini 3 Pro and DJI Mini 4 Pro, which are a better choice for those who want to capture the best quality drone images and have more creative flexibility.
→ Best drone for nighttime photography

Unique features like variable aperture and 6K/30p video set the Lite+ apart from its competitors

With its 20MP Type CMOS camera sensor, ability to capture sharp images at night and 40-minute flight time, this drone is a capable DJI alternative, but with a few drawbacks.

Best Alternative Pick

Weighing in around 835g, the Autel Evo Lite+ excels in camera performance, making it one of the best drones for photography. It has a 1-inch 20MP sensor that captures crisp images, even in low-light situations, thanks to the moonlight algorithm. 

It also has a variable aperture of f/2.8 to f/11 that lets you control your shots’ depth of field and exposure. The Evo Lite+ drone can also shoot 10-bit RAW images for more editing options. 

The Autel Evo Lite Plus has a lot to offer, including 6K/30p video recording, a 40-minute flight time, a 12 km transmission range, and a three-way obstacle avoidance system.

However, it does have some limitations, such as no side or top sensors and no automatic bypassing of obstacles. Despite these limitations, the Evo Lite+ still has some strengths that make it a competitive option.

Pros

  • Fabulous camera quality: The Autel Evo Lite Plus is armed with a powerful 1-inch CMOS sensor that captures 6K ultra-high-definition (UHD) video and 20-megapixel photos and gives high-quality images and videos, even in low-light situations.
  • Adjustable aperture: You can use a larger aperture for night photography and capture clearer images with the help of the moonlight algorithm and f/2.8 to f/11 variable aperture.
  • Dynamic Track 2.1 system: Automatically follow and track any subject to make long action shots easier.
  • SoundRecord feature: You can record ambient sounds from the Lite Plus’s remote controller and sync them with the video.
  • Long battery life: The drone has a long battery life of 40 minutes, which is much longer than the DJI Air 2S’s 31 minutes battery.

Cons

  • The Evo Lite+ does not let you adjust the shutter speed, aperture, white balance, and ISO settings when you use A-Log or HDR mode, which limits your creative options.
  • It has no side and top sensors for obstacle avoidance, which may limit its safety in busy environments.

Best Drone for Photography FAQ.

What is the Best Drone for Beginners?

The best drone for beginners should be small, easy to operate, and equipped with a good camera. Some of the best drones on the market with these features include the DJI Mini 3, the DJ Mini SE, the slightly more expensive  DJI Mini 4 Pro, and the Potensic Atom SE.

These drones are all relatively affordable and have other important features that make them easy to control, such as altitude hold and automatic return to home.

What is the Best Drone for Photography?

Some of the best drones for photography beginners and professionals alike are listed below:

Best Drones for Photography

  1. DJI Mini 4 Pro – Best drone for travel
  2. DJI Air2S – Best drone for beginners
  3. DJI Mavic 3 Pro – Best drone for photography pro
  4. Autel Evo Lite Plus – Best for nighttime photography
  5. DJI Mini 3 – Best drone under 500

The DJI Mavic 3 Pro is a professional-grade drone that features a three-camera system with a wide-angle, a mid-range telephoto, and a long-range telephoto lens.

It can shoot up to 4K video and 24MP photos with a variable aperture and a 15km transmission range for HD video. The DJI Mavic 3 Pro also has a robust airframe, omnidirectional obstacle avoidance, and a max flight time of 43 minutes.

Get the DJI Mavic 3 Pro on Amazon →

The DJI Air 2S is the best drone for beginners because it is a compact and powerful drone that can capture stunning 5.4K video and 20MP stills with its 1-inch CMOS sensor.

It also has advanced safety features like obstacle avoidance, geofencing, and return to home. The DJI Air 2S is easy to fly and offers up to 34 minutes of flight time.

Get the DJI Air 2S on Amazon →

The DJI Mini 4 Pro is a lightweight and portable drone that weighs less than 250g, which means it does not require registration in most regions.

It has a high-quality 4K camera with a 3-axis gimbal for smooth videos. It also has omnidirectional vision sensing, vertical video mode, and a battery life of 34 minutes (with Intelligent Flight Battery) or 45 minutes (with Intelligent Flight Battery Plus).

Get the DJI Mini 4 Pro on Amazon →

The DJI Mini 3 is an affordable compact drone with great image quality and features for beginners. It shoots 4K video, has obstacle-sensing technology, and a flight time of up to 38 – 51 minutes (battery type depending).

The DJI Mini 3 is the best drone with a camera for beginners who want to capture drone footage without breaking the bank.

Get the DJI Mini 3 on Amazon →

The Autel Evo Lite+ is a drone that specializes in low-light performance. It has a 20MP camera with a 1-inch sensor and an adjustable aperture from f/2.8 to f/11 and can capture video up to an impressive 6K/30p.

It also has an intelligent moonlight algorithm that enhances the details and colours of night scenes. The Autel Evo Lite Plus can fly for up to 40 minutes and has cinematic flight modes and camera settings.

Get the Autel Evo Lite+ on Amazon →

How to Make Money With Drones?

Whether you’re a drone beginner or an experienced drone pilot, there are opportunities out there for the taking to help you earn extra income with your drone.

If you’re unsure where to begin, here’s guidance on the steps to turn your drone into a profitable side business:

  1. Invest in the Right Equipment: To succeed in drone photography and videography, you’ll need a high-quality drone with a good camera. Consider drones like the DJI Mini 3 for beginners or the DJI Mavic Pro for more advanced users.
  2. Hone Your Skills: It’s crucial to become proficient in flying your drone and capturing great shots before you can make money from it. Practice in different environments and lighting conditions to improve your skills.
  3. Obtain Necessary Certifications: Depending on your location, you might need to obtain certifications to operate drones commercially. For instance, a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA is required in the United States.
  4. Build a Portfolio: Start by taking photos and videos in your area to create a portfolio showcasing your work. These samples will be essential when attracting potential clients.
  5. Find Your Niche: Consider specializing in a specific area of drone photography or videography, such as real estate, events, or nature. This can help you target a particular audience.
  6. Market Your Services: Create an attractive website to help network and promote your drone services. There are many easy website builder platforms to help you get a website up and running fast.
  7. Deliver Quality Work: Consistently provide high-quality results to build a strong reputation and encourage repeat business and referrals.

  8. Explore Different Revenue Streams: In addition to direct client work, consider selling your drone footage as stock footage, starting a YouTube channel, or offering training and workshops to aspiring drone pilots.

Do I Need a License to Fly a Drone?

Whether or not you need a license to fly a drone depends on the country or region you are in, as well as the weight and capabilities of your drone. 

Do I need a License to Fly a Drone in the US?

To fly a drone in the United States you need to register your drone with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) if it weighs more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams). However, you do not need a pilot’s license to fly a drone in the US.

Do I Need a License to Fly a Drone in the UK?

To fly a drone in the United Kingdom, you need to register your drone with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) if it weighs more than 250 grams to get a FlyerID. You must carry your FlyerID details at all times while flying the drone.

The rules may vary in other countries, so checking the regulations before you fly your drone is important.

What is the Best Drone With a Camera?

The best drone with a camera depends on your level of skill, creativity, and budget. Some features to look for are image sensor size, resolution, frame rate, bit rate, colour depth, and stabilisation.

One of the most advanced and versatile consumer drones with a camera is the DJI Mavic 3 Pro, which has a triple-camera system that can switch between wide-angle, telephoto, and thermal lenses.

The Mavic 3 Pro can also record up to 4K video at 60fps, capture 20MP photos in RAW format, and fly for up to 46 minutes.

Best drones 2021:

The best drones of 2021 are still good options to consider today. Some popular options include the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, the DJI Mini 2, and the Autel EVO II.

Best Drones 2022:

The best drones of 2022 are ones that are still competitive in the market. Some popular options include the DJI Mavic Air 2, the DJI Mini 2, and the Potensic Atom SE.

These drones all offer good value for money and have features that make them suitable for a variety of uses.

Best Drones 2023:

The best drones of 2023 include the prosumer DJI Mavic 3 Pro, the beginner-friendly DJI Mini 3 and DJI Air 2S, and the Autel Evo Lite Plus, which is excellent in low-light conditions. Finally, the DJI Mini 4 Pro is a small, lightweight drone perfect for drone shoots on the go.

In Summary

You’ve just discovered the best drones for photography on the market today.

  • If you’re looking for the best drone for photography that captures stunning professional images, go with the DJI Mavic 3 Pro.
  • If you want the best drone for beginners, choose the DJI Air2S or DJI Mini 3, which is also the best drone under $500.
  • If you’re after the best alternative DJI drone, check out the Autel Evo Lite+.

No matter which drone you choose, make sure to read the instructions carefully and practice flying in a safe area before taking it to your next photo shoot.

Whether you’re buying a drone for fun or to earn extra cash, go for it.

Happy flying lads and lasses!

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